Trey Murphy III, SF New Orleans Pelicans, 23
I’ve saved my two favorite trade targets for last. Let me get out in front and say it is going to be much harder for Detroit to pry either of the next two from their current teams, but they truly would fill the position of need. The first option is current New Orleans Pelicans forward Trey Murphy III. After a modest rookie year, Murphy exploded onto the scene last season with Zion Williamson out with injury. His nightly scoring tripled and his field goal percentage rose almost 10 percent. Since Zion’s return this year, Murphy has returned to a bench role, but his numbers have largely remained the same. In 15 games this season, Murphy is averaging 13.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists all while shooting 40 percent from three.
Offensively, Trey comes in as the fourth best forward in offensive rating. On the defensive end, which as mentioned a handful of times previously, should be extremely important for the Pistons, Murphy is also fourth among qualified forwards with a defensive rating of 96.1. He has a plus/minus of 10, and fits Detroit’s timeline exactly. Trey Murphy would check almost every box Detroit is searching for.
A healthy Zion Williamson helps Detroit’s case to acquire Murphy as he has been relegated to a bench role, but the Pelicans are currently 6th in the Western Conference, and sit just 3.5 games behind the first place Timberwolves. It would likely take a lot to pry a valuable bench piece from the Pels. But, if the price is right, a guy with a Player Impact Estimate of 11.7 is who they should target.
Jalen Johnson, SF/PF Atlanta Hawks, 22
Similar to Trey Murphy, Jalen Johnson had promising, albeit quiet first few years to his career. This season, however, Johnson is enjoying quite the breakout and was recently awarded by being inserted into the starting lineup. When I say breakout, I truly mean it. His statline last season was 5.6 points, 4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1 stock, and 28 percent shooting from deep. This year, Johnson’s slashes have skyrocketed to 15.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 stocks and connecting on the perimeter at 40 percent. He has easily doubled every stat from his sophomore year to now. It’s thanks to this breakout that he, just like Trey Murphy, may not be available.
His player ratings aren’t quite as elite as Trey Murphy, but they are certainly still adequate. Jalen currently has an offensive rating of 115.4, good for 67th among qualified forwards. Defensively, Johnson could still use some work. His defensive rating ranks 115th with 118.3. Still, that puts him one spot behind Draymond Green, and above the likes of Grant Williams and Jonathan Kuminga. His PIE sits at 12.8 and he would immediately slide into Detroit’s starting lineup. Again, it would likely take a larger move to get the young budding star, but a larger move may be necessary at this point.